Government is targeting to acquire three more MA60 aircraft for Air Zimbabwe at a cost of $6 million as plans to boost the company’s fleet gathers momentum.
Air Zimbabwe’s fleet currently comprises of two Boeing 767s, three B737s, three MA60s and two Airbus A320s.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Permanent Secretary Dr Machivenyika Mapuranga, said they are targeting MA60 aircraft for Air Zimbabwe.
“What we are looking for is $6 million to buy MA60 aircraft for Air Zimbabwe of which one MA60 will cost $2 million. This is the aircraft we are targeting for Air Zimbabwe,” said Dr Mapuranga.
Air Zimbabwe is one of the critical parastatals that Cabinet wants revived given its central role in economic turnaround, particularly from the perspective of bringing tourists into the country.
Tourism is seen as a low hanging fruit that can help turnaround the economy.
Cabinet has since approved the takeover of Air Zimbabwe’s $334 million debt as part of grand efforts to clean its balance sheet and resuscitate its operations.
It is estimated that Air Zimbabwe’s passenger numbers have gone down to about 230 000 per annum in the past few years, from a peak of one million in 1996 with travellers looking for alternative airlines across all the domestic destinations.
The national airline is still in the wilderness where it continues to incur losses.
In 2011, Air Zimbabwe’s Boeing 737-500 was impounded in South Africa after failing to settle a $500 000 debt owed to Bid Air Services for ground handling services.
The Boeing 767-200 was also seized by American General Supplies in London over a $1,2 million debt in the same year.
It is believed that is the reason why the airline pulled out of flying to London, one of the most lucrative destinations.
Air Zimbabwe was suspended from International Air Transport Association (IATA), a situation which has made it difficult for Air Zimbabwe to fly to international destinations.
IATA is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 275 airlines or 83 percent of total air traffic. It supports many areas of aviation activity and helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues.
Dr Mapuranga said there was a target that Air Zimbabwe should be re-admitted at IATA by December this year. The target is to make sure Air Zimbabwe begins international flights and boost revenues.
If revived, Air Zimbabwe has a potential to make a meaningful contribution to the economic growth of the country.–herald